UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Nigeria has formally asked the U.N. Security Council al Qaeda sanctions committee to blacklist the Islamist militant group Boko Haram after the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls, U.N. diplomats said on Tuesday.
If there is no objection by the 15-member council committee, which operates by consensus, Boko Haram will be sanctioned at 3:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, the council diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Difficult to object to such a request by the concerned country,” said one of the council diplomats.
Until recently, Nigeria has been reluctant to seek international assistance in combating Boko Haram.
The document submitted by Nigeria to support its blacklisting request references a bomb attack on the United Nations’ Nigeria headquarters on August 26, 2011 that killed 24 people, diplomats said.
It also describes a “campaign of violence against Nigerian schools and students” by the group and references other attacks on schools last year, according to diplomats.
Boko Haram, which Western governments and Abuja say is linked to al Qaeda, kidnapped more than 250 girls from a secondary school in Chibok in remote northeastern Nigeria on April 14 and has threatened to sell them into slavery. Eight other girls were taken from another village earlier this month.
Boko Haram’s five-year-old insurgency is aimed at reviving a medieval Islamic caliphate in modern Nigeria, whose 170 million people are split roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims. The group is becoming, by far, the biggest security threat to Africa’s top oil producer.
Earlier this month, the U.N. Security Council threatened to take action against the insurgents and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, urged the body to work quickly to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist group.
Boko Haram, which in the Hausa language means broadly “Western education is sinful,” is loosely modeled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan.
Editing by James Dalgleish and Bernadette Baum